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Advice, stories, or a flaming needed...

1479 Views 19 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  JCB
Just a heads-up, this got far longer than I intended. You may need a snack. ;)

Hi all, (I just posted a hello in the intro forum)

I was hoping for some perspective, other experiences, advice and/or a flaming.

This past Feb we adopted our puppy, Nike, from a rescue organization on petfinder. The listed said "probably purebred." I doubted it to be true from looking at the picture, but the group picture of puppies certainly looked like black lab mixes and that was great with us. I applied, was accepted and that weekend we went to pick him up.

The group of 4 puppies we chose from were mixes- lots of white on their chests, tails that curved up slightly, shorter than your average lab ears. Once home, he happened to yawn. And would you look at that- lots of black/purple markings on the top of his tongue and very dark underneath his tongue. I know now that he's definitely part Chow- the shape of his face,the way he carries his tail, his tongue, and he's not much for retrieving either :(

My last dog (GSD) I got when she was 12 weeks old from a byb (and didn't know better at the time). Although she was great with me and my immediate family, she was dog aggressive, strange people aggressive and very protective. I think part of it was just her personality and sadly part of it was my inexperience. I think I unknowingly reinforced unwanted reactions and behaviors because I was worried about her response to situations. I did my best to socialize her, but not realizing it then, I was working from behind the eight-ball. She spent the first 12 weeks of her life in a basement and I don't think she got out much. I often felt like I rescued her from that guy. I had to put her down in Nov at 13yo due to cancer. We miss her very much.

Anyway, the point of all was that I was bound and determined to do it better this next time around. I have three kids 6 and under. I wanted a family friendly, happy dog. I did a ton of research, first about breeds and then about breeders. We were thinking of buying a lab puppy through a reputable breeder and at the same time, I was still keeping up with petfinder as well. It was breaking my heart to to see all these puppies the needed homes and here I could do just that. And then the listing for Nike appeared.

Here are my issues:
I feel like the rescue person was less than honest in her listing and her practice. Those puppies were clearly mixes and she should have listed that, and taken her best guess on their breed(s). I have written many scathing emails to her over the past 2 months but haven't actually sent them.

I wasn't sure of what a Chow looked like as a puppy. I didn't recognize it when I saw him, and didn't even think to check his tongue. With my young kids and past baggage, I just didn't want a dog breed with aggression/fighting history. I'm not looking for a guard dog. There were just some breeds out of the question for me (and I know a dog is more than it's breed's public image). With the kids, I just wanted to reduce the likelihood of problems.

Nike's a great puppy. He's wonderful with the kids, esp. the baby. He's smart and listens well. We love him very much. I am a SAHM, I take him out with me whenever I can, he love's to go and play with the kids when I pick my son up from school. He's belly-up just as soon as he greets people and does his happy pee on them.

He's in puppy kinder now and the teacher made a comment to the effect of "he might now be the kind of dog you can take to the dog park." He doesn't seem to back down, she said. And today at the beach, he (for lack of a better description) snarled at another dog he had been friendly with earlier.

And then there is my vet-friend, who rolled her eyes when she realized he was part chow, said she never met a chow she liked. Ugh.

I am worried that we'll have aggression issues later on. One of the reasons we chose a lab was for the temperament. The thought of re-homing him had crosses my mind, but that's not the of dog owner I have ever been, he's part of the family and he is such a good puppy. And, I'd be really sad if he turns out to be a the kind of dog who has to be the only dog in the house. We'd like another in 3 years or so.

Am I nuts and just overly worried about this? There's no need to re-home him, right? I feel like an idiot for not knowing better and for setting my expectations too high. I just can't help but feel like I'm staring down the barrel of my last 13 years all over again.


and Nike
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I think you're over-analyzing it.

If you got him as a puppy and have been making efforts to socialize him with strange people and dogs, you should have no issues. Puppy kindergarten is a great start in that direction.

By the way, just because you think he's part chow and because your vet friend thinks he's part chow doesn't mean he's first generation chow/lab. He may have a chow mix in the third generation back- the blue spots on the tongue tend to be a fairly dominant trait.
First welcome!
And he's adorable in the picture.

Just a few words, I think with Chows it's much more the upbringing than the breed. My mother has chows and they have been wonderful family pets. They can be protective of their family but I've not know one raised and socialized apprpriately to take it to an extreme. It sounds to me as though you are taking the right steps to socializing. Others with more experiance will add their thoughts and experiance soon
Well I certainly feel for you because I have kinda been there...

I don't think the rescue group really intended to fool anyone, he does look labbish and really most mix pups that end up in shelters are claimed to be part labrador. It sounds like you are doing your part in socializing and training him the right way. As you know some breeds tend to be less people pleasers and you will have to work harder. I have no knowledge of chows so maybe someone here knows their breed characteristics and can help you better.

I can understand your disappointment when you were looking for a labrador and now you have something quite different. It doesn't mean he will be aggressive just because he isn't a lab, and sometimes the more we think it suddenly it becomes the truth. You may have to work harder socializing him and training him to make him a great all around dog. But it sounds like he is really good with your kids and that is a good start.
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You might look through Dr. Patricia McConnell's booklets on common behavioral problems to see if she has a a protocol that provides a "fix". She's mainstream psychology, ethology, behaviorism.


OK...well, looking at your picture, I'm thinking maybe there' could possibly be some Chow in there somewhere. The ear set, the head shape. BUT, I wanted to show you a picture of Angus' tongue:

This started as a tiny spot on the back of his tongue. Every week it seemed to grow a little more. I was convinced he had a very rare tongue cancer and his tongue was eventually going to fall off.

:D It didn't.

I found this place and learned that quite a few Labs have these black spots. It's a concentration of pigment, just like a freckle. Does your pup's tongue look like this?

If it really is purplish-black, though, that may be an indication of Chow. But still! You have gotten this boy really young. A little socialization and training can go a long way, and you sound very responsible and dedicated to the task. :) Don't overthink, and don't stress!
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An obvious, or maybe not so obvious(?), question is 'Where did he stand in his own pack?' That is, did you bring home a dog that was the leader of his group of puppies that put all the other dogs in place, i.e. the alpha dog? Or did you bring home a member of the pack?

I'm thinking that seeing puppy pee when the kids are playing with him is probably a good thing at this stage since he's showing his subservience to the kids. If you keep him and know he has a strong temperament (and even if he's just a regular dog), make sure he always knows his place in the pack and that any of the kids and you are allowed to touch him and his food anywhere and anytime you want without him complaining from day one.

I wouldn't leave a child unsupervised with any dog until the child was fully large and strong enough to fully fend for themselves even if it were a small, sweet dog.

That's my 2 cents...

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Hi. I understand your concerns but I also think you are over anylayzing it. Families all over the world own guard/fighting breeds -- German Shepherds, Rotties, Dobermans, Pit Bull's, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Chow's, etc., with no problems. Most of these dogs providing they are lovingly trained and raised make wonderful companions. If we all thought about the "what if's", none of us would own dogs. All dogs can bite, all dogs can be aggressive. Sure, some breeds are more prone to aggression than others but you can do your best to control and modify that desire. You control and modify that desire through hard work -- training, socialization, exercise, etc.

I feel like the rescue person was less than honest in her listing and her practice. Those puppies were clearly mixes and she should have listed that, and taken her best guess on their breed(s). I have written many scathing emails to her over the past 2 months but haven't actually sent them.
Lots of rescues label breeds incorrectly. At the rescue I volunteer at there was a cute dog labeled as a Chihuahua mix. This dog didn't have an ounce of Chi in him. Everything about him screamed Sheltie mix.

Shelters will name most black dogs as Lab mixes.

[I am worried that we'll have aggression issues later on. One of the reasons we chose a lab was for the temperament. The thought of re-homing him had crosses my mind, but that's not the of dog owner I have ever been, he's part of the family and he is such a good puppy. And, I'd be really sad if he turns out to be a the kind of dog who has to be the only dog in the house. We'd like another in 3 years or so.
As long as you continue with what you are doing, I highly doubt this will ever be an issue. A dog who is half or part Chow won't ever have a typical Lab personality but there is no reason for him to "become" aggressive.

I was at the beach a couple of weeks ago and saw two Chows running off leash. They seemed friendly enough. Also, a lady who used to live behind us in our old house had one. The dog was always playing out in the back yard with the grandchildren.
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Yes I see Chow Chow in the shape of your pup's face and I do not like Chows as family pets and they are very independent and aggressive (they are NOT a "guard" breed per say with that type of temperament - just very aloof and intolerant) however I have met many Chow mixes who were wonderfully friendly and patient. I would enroll her in obedience class ASAP and socialize, socialize, socialize.
Our dear old lady dog, Annie, is a chow mix we got from the shelter when she was 1 years old. We new nothing about chows, but a friend who volunteered with the shelter tipped us off to this "great family dog" (Annie, not neccessarily Chows in particular). I couldn't agree more. Now we also have two labs because we want something that will chase a ball. But our Annie always reminded me of Nana the St. Bernard from Peter Pan. My daughter learned to stand by grabbing fistfuls of Annie's hair and pulling herself up. My three kids as toddlers poked, prodded, and pulled every inch of her while they were learning boundries, and she never showed anythiing but patience and love. Whenever a child cried she beat us to them to check on them. She has welcomed every stranger, man, woman, child, dog, and cat into our home with nothing but affection. At 12 I know our time with Annie is limited, but she was the perfect dog for our young family. After we owned her for awhile we learned about the chow reputation, but we have never seen anything to be concerned with. If your puppy is showing no problems now, don't worry. Like the other said, just socialize with people and dogs and don't borrow your worries.
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Oh you know, it may help you also to hear the story of Crash...

He was a pup we got from an oops litter advertised in the newspaper. The ad read, "Part Pit Bull/part Rottweiler/part Golden Retriever." I thought that was just hilarious, that mix of breeds, so I had to go see for myself.

When we got there we first saw the mother, and she was just exactly what you would picture a Pit/Rottie looking like. She was Rottie-sized with a Pit-shaped head, on a chain, and barking at us like she was going to eat us alive. :eek: We cut her a VERY wide berth. It is rare that I do not attempt to make friends with a dog. I was never even slightly tempted to try to win her over. She was that vicious.

So, that was Crash's heritage, and let me tell you: There has never been a sweeter, gentler dog to walk the earth. His good temperament was legendary among friends and family...he charmed all who met him, even non-dog people. He never barked or growled at a person his entire life, and I trusted him to be nice and compliant and easygoing in any and every situation. He never disappointed. :angel:

So, the point being, a lot of it has to do with the individual puppy, and how they are raised.
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There are some advantages to a chow mix with young kids too. When my kids were little I was always tired and chows are pretty low maintenance. They don't have a compulsion to fetch a ball 23 hours a day. Annie is happy to take attention, but didn't mind curling up in a snow bank if I was beat. Also, they have great bladders (really!). They need to go out far less than other dogs, which is nice if you are running around with 3 little kids. My Annie is stubborn. Her only true chow trait, but all that means is sometimes she thinks she should be allowed to lie in a snowbank when it's 20 below outside, and you think she needs to stay in and be warm. One last Annie story, so I don't steal your thread. My daughter as an infant always got two baths. I would bath her and plop her in her infant seat clean and only wearing a diaper, and Annie always felt obligated to give her a true bath and would lick her head to toe to make sure the baby was truely clean (yeck!).
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I wouldn't be too worried. Train her, socialize her, and love her. I raised my kids with Rottweilers. They were always the best of friends. Nothing cuter or funnier than watching a young toddler still in diapers bossing around a 100# dog while standing nose to nose. "No, no Thor...sit!" ;D The thing you have to remember is that guarding breeds, like Rotts, are very protective of their family. That means that I never left my dog alone with my kids when they had friends over. If the dog was with the kids, so was I so I could remove him from the situation if the kids play started aggitating him. It only takes a minute for the kids to start rough housing, squealing, chasing each other and dogs don't understand that this is play. They think their family is in danger so their instinct to protect their family takes over.
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Thanks for all of your kind words and stories. It helps to hear stories of sweet, loving and gentle Chows.

AngusFangus- Nike's tongue looks similar in its coloring, pink w/ dark spots. But certainly not that long! (And I laugh every time I read your siggy.)

Maggiesmomm- I loved your Annie stories. I joke that Nike is part throw-rug. Ten minutes of play and he's ready to sleep where ever he lands. And he really is just so great with the kids. The baby (1 yo) is all over him and he just lets her. Out of all three kids, DH and I- his little puppy teeth have been on her the least.

I am very dedicated to making him the best family pet I can. I have been known to over-analyze and worry, it's hard not to when it's your family. Thanks everyone.

not to hijack but i saw it said that it has white on its chest does that mean there mixed? cause i got lola and she has white on her chest and white by her you know what. so i just wanted to see if this is true
I read your post, but I didn't read what the others had to say. And while I think one should make the best of what one has, your situation seems a little bit different.

For starters, you are already "tainted" in terms of how you feel regarding your being lied to (as far as I'm concerned, you were lied to), and about the chow breed in general. It does not help, either, that you have heard negative remarks from two professionals (trainer and vet). I can certainly understand your hesitations and concerns, and I truly sympathize.

While I won't offer advice as to what you should do with your pet at this point, I do want you to hear this:
....Don't feel guilty. Don't feel bad. Regardless of what you do, do the absolute very best that you can, and don't feel bad about it. Do what you need to do - but do "the right thing" whatever you choose. And whatever you do, don't judge yourself, or let others let you feel judged.

Incidentally, I have personally witnessed two local rescue groups on separate occasions misrepresent a dog, even after they were corrected. One of the two rescues adopted out a dog one day after they rescued it, charging the $225 fee - even though the dog hadn't been as much as washed nor been seen by a vet. No surprise when the family wanted to return him a couple weeks later - but the rescue group refused. (I met the dog and he was a real sweetie. But you can't take in a 120 lb. dog that has never been trained and expect great things from the start)
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My black girl, Rylee, is part chow and she is a wonderful dog. I thought she looked like a Flat Coated Retriever when I adopted her at about 9 months of age. She will turn 8 years old this year. She is by far the smartest of all three of my dogs. She always seemed to be a little dog aggressive, at least that's what she seemed like when she'd go to work with me at the vet clinic barking and carrying on at the other dogs. But she accepted both Owen and then Hazel with no problems at all. She has never done anything to any dogs or people for that matter. She is stubborn though which is a wonderful Chow trait. When she is off leash she is the only one that thinks she has to have a mind of her own and not listen (we live in the boondocks by the way on a back country dead-end road so don't worry about traffic) and decides to go sniff every little thing there is. She does the very reluctant walk back as slow as she possibly can while the labs are already at the door waiting to come in. That is my only problem with her. Otherwise she is an awesome dog and we love her very much! I'd give your little guy a chance and just stop worrying about the "Chow" part of him. Even labs sometimes have problems with other dogs. You just never know what you'll get for sure but definately socializing him correctly is the best start.
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If you are that worried about the behavior he exhibited, you might want to consider seeing a dog behaviorist. They can give you more info on what the behavior is all about. Since you like to analyze things, I bet you would be interested in learning more about their subtle body language and what it means.

I think he is a cutie ! And I too believe it's all in how you raise them for the most part.

I understand your concern about the "chow heritage" , and probably would have thought much the same myself, but the chows in my obedience class are the best behaved dogs there - not the most "I really want to do this stuff" , but calm and I've never heard that dog growl at any other dog like my lovable lab does! My sister has had chow mixes before and they have loved them. Of course, they also loved their rescue Akita ;) They do tend to be a little aloof, and hers sounded gruff if strangers came to the door, but she never bothered anyone. Your pup sure is cute - I don't really have any advice - several people have already given good advice to you. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Well, I can't add anymore to the advice given here, which was great.

Your cute little puppy sounds adorable, and I'd do exactly what was suggested. No flaming needed. :)

Maggiesmom-- I loved your story about Annie! very cute.
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